12pm Monday 2 July in ‘U_HSLTC_1.01_Lecture Theatre’ at Flinders University. Adelaide

Right now the Federal government is pouring billions and billions of dollars into the harm industry. This government has a vision, and it isn’t for universal free education, but instead to turn Australia into one of the top 10 arms exporters on the planet.

We are already one of the wealthiest countries on the planet and our political leaders want to make us just that little bit richer by trading in global misery, by exporting arms to places like the Middle East and Africa and the rest of the world.

Turnbull has committed $3.8 billion to push the Australian arms export industry. $3.8 billion on an industry that profits from war, from violence, from genocide and from human rights abuses. $3.8 billion on all of this while universities are being starved of funding and young people are being forced to pay back their HECs debts earlier than ever before.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Education used to be free.

We don’t need to make HECs debts smaller, we need to abolish them. Free education is achievable. We had free education in Australia when we were far less wealthy as a nation in 1974, and we can have it again now.

Everyone has the right to education, but that right can’t be fully realised until everyone has access to free higher education. It opens up opportunities for people who might otherwise be unable to afford it and reframes how we view education; as an institution for knowledge, not just a worker producing factory.

We can find the money to fund free education for all- it’s in the billions exported to the arms industry, it’s in the pockets of the corporations that pay $0 in tax; it’s in the billions spent on defence; and it’s in the billions spent inhumanely locking up refugees on Manus Island and Nauru.

No one should be burdened by crippling student debt. Free public university education means goes a long way to giving everyone the same economic and social opportunities. This means an inspiring plan for a universally accessible higher education system that is free and and open to people from all backgrounds.

Free education is already  a reality in Germany, Brazil, Scotland and Chile. In Chile this commitment was made after hundreds of thousands of students joined protests, strikes and occupations of universities and schools.

This isn’t an unobtainable dream, it’s time to make high quality and accessible higher education free for all.